Low carbon buildings See all Guides

Low carbon building advice for building owners and occupiers - how to ensure your new or refurbished building is energy efficient and uses renewables effectively.  Guidance on managing design, construction and operation as well as on key low carbon building technology areas.

Our 'Sharing our experience' booklets help you plan, build and manage cost-effective low carbon buildings that really work to save you money and carbon. They provide advice and tips covering the key parts of low carbon buildings and their delivery.

The insights are based on real data from 28 case studies from the Department of Energy and Climate Change's Low Carbon Buildings Programme and our work on low carbon refurbishments. The projects cover many sectors including retail, education, offices and mixed use residential buildings. 

The gap between design and performance

Our research shows that despite genuine intentions to develop a low carbon building, these often fail to translate into reality. This is caused by issues related to both the management of projects and the technologies involved. These issues can occur at all stages of a project, from inception to completion.

Closing the gap CTG047Closing the gap (CTG047) examines the gap between design predictions and real performance of low carbon buildings. The booklet provides advice and tips on the right approach to building design, project management and operation to enable a low carbon building to deliver on its expectations and to save you money when running your building.

Key Technologies and Best Practice

Risk management

Our research found that risk management, the process of identifying and then actively managing risk for projects with the aim of making the project more likely to succeed, was a key issue in low carbon buildings.

So, based on real data from our case studies, the key risks associated with low carbon buildings have been identified and are set out in the attached tool in the form of a typical project Risk Register spreadsheet (.xls, 500KB).

Within the register an indicative assessment has been made together with some key recommendations for mitigation. The mitigations are for guidance only and you must consider bespoke risks relevant to your project and also the specific mitigation plans.

Commissioning building systems

Making buildings work CTG051Making buildings work (CTG051) gives guidance on effective commissioning. Commissioning, the process of ensuring that the building is operating as required, is vitally important for achieving low carbon buildings.  Poor commissioning could turn a low energy design into a high energy-consuming finished project.


Metering and monitoring systems

Green gauges CTG037It is very important to track the energy used in a building.  Green gauges (CTG037) shares lessons learned from installing metering and monitoring systems in low carbon buildings.


Control systems

Taking control CTG052Building controls are a key element in operating buildings efficiently, but if they aren't set up right or are not understood by the users they can lead to wasted energy. Taking control (CTG052) shares insights from our case studies.


Natural ventilation

A natural choice CTG048Naturally ventilated buildings use less energy than mechanically ventilated equivalents.  A natural choice (CTG048) explains different  natural ventilation strategies and when they might be appropriate.


Retrofitting renewables

Power play CTG050Power play (CTG050) gives guidance on applying renewable energy technologies to existing buildings.


Ground source heat pumps

Down to earth CTG036Down to earth (CTG036) describes lessons learned from putting ground source heat pumps into action in buildings.



A place in the sun CTG038A place in the sun (CTG038) provides advice and tips on installing solar photovoltaic (solar PV) panels.



Taking the heat CTG061Taking the heat (CTG061) provides advice on how to make material carbon savings and potentially reduce heating costs.


Managing refurbishments

A place in the sun CTG038Low carbon refurbishment of buildings: management guide (CTV038) provides advice on ensuring a planned refurbishment delivers carbon savings, in addition to meeting its other objectives.


Building refurbishment

Refresh and reduce CTG049Refresh and reduce (CTG049) describes how to maximise carbon savings when undertaking internal refurbishments.




Low carbon buildings procurement & specification

Carbon Trust Scotland's 'Delivering the future, today' guides have been drawn up to help you with the concept of delivering a low carbon new build or refurbishment. 

They set out, step-by-step, what building owners, specifiers and designers need to do to deliver low carbon buildings, help them to meet  Carbon Reduction Commitment targets, and make compliance with the 2010 Building Standards more cost effective to deliver.

'Delivering the future today' guides:

Delivering the future, todayExecutive summary - Delivering the future, today (CTG066)

Setting the scene - Delivering the future, today (CTG067)

Project owner's guide - Delivering the future, today (CTG068)

Project manager's guide - Delivering the future today (CTG069)

Assessment tools for the energy efficient design of buildings:

Client values and preparation tool (xls) - to assess the client's preparedness to deliver a low carbon building design.

Skills and experience tabulation contractors tool (xls) - to assess the procurement team's knowledge and experience to produce a low carbon impact building.

Low carbon design tracker template (doc) - for design teams to keep track of low carbon items. To be completed by the client/design team for their requirements

Case studies

View a selection of video case studies on greening buildings.


Further support

If your business is looking to improve energy efficiency or install renewable energy generation, see our services to find out how we can help.  This includes: